8 Wastes of Lean

Targeting the common forms of process waste in Lean

By knowing and addressing the common forms of process waste in Lean, teams can start to make processes smarter, faster, and simpler – thus, maximizing value for customers.


Henry Ford and other improvement gurus have explained, “waste is anything that doesn’t add value” or “anything the customer isn’t willing to pay for.” Organizations that commit to identifying and reducing waste, are in a sense, committing to maximizing value for their customers and their operators. Before creating initiatives to reduce waste, organizations need to understand a few things about waste.


  1. Waste likes to hide. People will hide their waste if they fear that their job is in jeopardy.
  2. It isn’t always about eliminating waste; sometimes, one form of waste is preferred over another.
  3. It isn’t uncommon for the processes that will be the target of improvement to be “homegrown”. In many cases, the operator is being asked to improve a process they designed.
  4. People will mourn their waste. Provide them with enough time to accept the change prior to asking them to move on to something new.
There are 8 forms of process waste that exist. A common acronym for summarizing the different types of waste is DOWNTIME. DOWNTIME stands for defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra-processing

With these things in mind, organizations need to be gentle in addressing waste. It is crucial that the process is honored and that conversations about waste are not perceived to be about an individual’s performance, but instead about making the process better. It is essential that all employees understand that reducing waste is not about reducing headcount.

If you are going to successfully address waste, you are going to have to make it safe to talk about it.

The concept of waste is essential to understand for a variety of reasons. Waste is the inefficiencies that exist within a process. Waste consumes valuable resources, and in most cases, it goes unnoticed.

There are multiple acronyms created to help make recalling the common forms of waste easy. Some of those acronyms include TIMWOOD, DOTWIMP, and DOWNTIME. There is a little bit of variation in opinion around how many forms of waste exist. The original teachings focused on 7 forms, whereas some current teaching focuses on 8.

At the Green Dot, we teach the 8 forms of waste using the acronym DOWNTIME, which we explain in the infographic provided to the left.

To download a copy of the infographic please provide your contact information in the form below.


To learn more about the 8 wastes of Lean, please refer to the summary video provided below.

Because process waste is common in any process, whether it is automotive, manufacturing, or healthcare, it is critical that operators be able to identify and address waste at the source. To learn more about the 8 wastes of Lean please refer to the provided video. If you wish to learn more than what is explained in the summary video, we strongly encourage you to check out our Lean Six Sigma White Belt Certification.

There are 8 forms of process waste that exist. A common acronym for summarizing the different types of waste is DOWNTIME. DOWNTIME stands for defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra-processing

Download the Free "Waste Infographic" Template (PDF)

Purchase the Waste Walk template to customize for your own organization

All of our tools and templates are available in Word or PowerPoint format to allow organizations to purchase and customize the templates to their brand standards.

As organizations seek to gain efficiencies through their improvement efforts it is important the operators have the ability to identify the common forms of process waste. Beyond just identifying the forms of waste that exist within their processes, operators need to be able to engage in meaningful dialogue about those forms of waste, helping to escalate issues and suggest improvement ideas. To equip operators with this ability, it is often recommended that organizations provide all employees with the same baseline training on process improvement. For most organizations, this includes enrolling all employees in White Belt training.

Get Your Lean Six Sigma White Belt Certification

The White Belt certification provides a high-level overview of Lean Six Sigma. White Belt is the entry-level certificate in the belt series, with no prerequisite learning required. The main focus is to discuss the value that Lean Six Sigma can bring to an organization. Specifically, the culture Lean Six Sigma helps to create.


The White Belt certification is perfect for individuals looking to familiarize themselves with the terms and fundamental concepts of Lean Six Sigma.

Need help eliminating waste in your organization?


Schedule a 30 minute coach call today and let’s talk through the details. 

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